By Tim Michels, Esq., IWIF Executive Vice President of Claims.
As a business owner, you see the connection between workplace wellness programs and lower health care insurance costs. But, did you know that workplace wellness programs can also lower workers’ compensation insurance costs for your business clients? It’s true. The benefits of wellness programs transcend multiple lines of insurance. The potential savings on workers’ comp premiums and claims costs are clear. Research confirms it.
Proof is in the numbers
A review of 42 published studies involving the economic returns of workplace wellness programs showed that on average, employers saw a 30 percent reduction in workers’ compensation and disability claims costs. Research conducted at the University of Michigan showed that low-risk employees have lower costs for short-term disability, workers’ compensation, absence and health care costs; whereas, high-risk employees have higher costs.
Obesity is costly in workers’ compensation. A Duke University study found that obese workers filed twice the number of workers’ compensation claims and lost 13 times more days of work from job-related injuries or illnesses than non-obese workers. Medical claims involving obese workers cost more too. The study found that, on average, a claim involving a worker with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) cost $7,500. The claim associated with a worker with a severely obese BMI totaled more than $51,000.
Eight steps to implementing a workplace wellness program
You can establish a workplace wellness program that will keep your employees and bottom line healthy. Here’s how to get started:
1. Gain support from management. The greater the support a wellness program has from management, the greater its chances of success.
2. Identify a wellness champion or team to lead the program. Human Resources and/or safety staff are ideal candidates to communicate the mission of the program and coordinate activities.
3. Establish a budget. A budget could allow you to offer discounted gym memberships, in-house exercise and health classes, healthy food options and other incentives to encourage participation.
4. Set achievable goals and ways to measure success.
5. Identify employees’ and company’s needs. Conduct a workforce assessment using hard data such as absenteeism, medical and workers’ comp claims, prescription usage, demographics, etc. Ask employees what health and wellness topics are most important to them.
6. Partner with community wellness providers. Local hospitals and health insurers often have outreach programs that will educate employees about health and wellness.
7. Implement the wellness program. Publicize the new program to employees and encourage involvement.
8. Measure the effectiveness of the program, celebrate successes. Learn which initiatives work best and are the most popular. Monitor employee satisfaction.
A workplace wellness program can help your employees safely live and work to their fullest potential. Healthy employees can help reduce your company's insurance expenses, including workers' compensation insurance. So the next time your'e looking to save money on company expenses, think wellness. Think workplace wellness.
For more information about establishing a workplace wellness program, contact Tim Michels at 410-494-2300 or visit iwif.com. IWIF is the leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Maryland.